Monday, October 20, 2008

Titans' perfect mark might be only window dressing

DAVID CLIMER
dclimer@tennessean.com
615-259-8020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Undefeated?

Yes.

Untouchable?

Hardly.

Don't be fooled by the events of Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium. Granted, the Titans disposed of Kansas City 34-10 and made the Chiefs look downright amateurish in the process. But much work remains.

Next up is Indianapolis, a week from tonight. And while the Colts of 2008 might not be playing up to their pedigree of the past few seasons, they remain the AFC South standard against which others are compared.

"Until somebody beats them, they are the division champs," Titans tackle Michael Roos said. "For years, they have been the measuring point in this division."

Running back LenDale White called Titans-Colts games "instant classics."

"Everybody is going to have their eyes on this game," said White, whose 80-yard fourth-quarter run against Kansas City showcased unexpected speed, albeit against a defense that was already beaten.

Yes, this is a Titans team that has its helmet screwed on straight. Through six games and six victories — not to mention an open date — the Titans have taken care of business like no one else in the NFL. For the moment, their record is envy of the league.

"I'd be lying if I said we'd be 6-0 to start the season," linebacker Keith Bulluck said. "But I thought we'd have a very decent record."

Decent, sure. But undefeated?

"I like the way we're playing right now," defensive end Jevon Kearse said. "But we've got to play better."

Sobering stat: The six victories have been against teams with a combined record of 12-26. None of Tennessee's six victims has a winning record.

Still, there is something to be said for the way the Titans keep handling things. We can quibble about the records of the competition, but you can only play — and beat — the teams that are on your schedule.

The Titans also proved they could focus on the Chiefs after a bye week and before the showdown with the Colts. Somebody spread mousetraps in the locker room during practice last week. The point was made.

"Everybody wanted to talk about the Monday night game and talk about us having a trap game," Bulluck said. "This shows how focused we were coming into this game, coming into this week and coming into this season."

The Titans didn't dress either of their top two wide receivers, Justin Gage and Justin McCareins, but still undressed the Chiefs' defense.

I guess Kansas City didn't get the memo about covering the tight ends and watching out for screen passes. Rookie Lavelle Hawkins had his first two catches as a pro — and they were the only receptions by Titans wide receivers on the day.

It was so bad that Kerry Collins threw only 18 passes — nine in each half — and instead handed the ball off to Chris Johnson and White, who combined for 317 yards.

"I'm probably supposed to be carrying out my fake a little better, but I'll do a little spectating and see how the hole develops," Collins said. "Obviously our running game is strong and I hope it will continue that way."

Likewise, the Titans defense was so dominant that defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch was able to exit after the first series to save any further wear on his groin injury. The extra rest should be beneficial when Peyton Manning and friends arrive at LP Field next Monday night.

Frankly, it's painful to come to a one-time pro football mecca and find both a deteriorating Arrowhead Stadium and a Chiefs team that puts up only token resistance.

A blowout like this needs comic relief. And Johnson, the rookie running back with quick-twitch moves, was more than happy to provide it.

After finishing off his 66-yard fourth-quarter sprint with a head-first vault into the end zone, he hustled to a nearby bandstand and briefly played the drums.

The beat goes on.


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Photo by Donn Jones

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